Athletics

A's vs White Sox on April 17 will be one-of-a-kind promotion

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AP

A's vs White Sox on April 17 will be one-of-a-kind promotion

The A’s announced details for one of the more unique promotions in the major leagues this upcoming season.

Their April 17 game against the Chicago White Sox at the Coliseum — played on the 50th anniversary of their first game in Oakland — will be completely free admission for fans. The A’s are promoting the game as one of the first of its kind. They originally unveiled the idea back in September. On Wednesday, they announced fans can sign up for tickets Jan. 10 starting at 8 a.m. at athletics.com/50.

Current season ticket holders don’t need to sign up. Tickets for that game will automatically be loaded on to their accounts.

“We are extremely excited to offer this gift to the city as we celebrate 50 years in Oakland,” A’s president Dave Kaval said in a club statement. “The entire 2018 season will be a celebration of the A’s rich history, and offering the first free MLB game is another unique way for us to celebrate our team and wonderful fans.”

Whether this free game is indeed the first of its kind is unknown, but at the very least it’s extremely rare. And the A’s caught some good fortune with the schedule. The White Sox wouldn’t be a big draw as a visiting team, particularly on a Tuesday night, which is when this anniversary game falls. So the A’s at least have a chance to generate some buzz on what would otherwise be a humdrum date on their home schedule.

Some other highlights worth noting from the A’s 2018 schedule:

Their March 29 season opener against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels will be their first home opener played in the afternoon since 1994. First pitch will be at 1:05.

This year’s Bay Bridge Series against the Giants, rather than be played as a four-game series, will be a six-game set that sandwiches the All-Star break. Three games will take place at AT&T Park on July 13-15, then the A’s will host three July 20-22.

Khris Davis Q&A: A's slugger discusses teammates, favorite breakfsat

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USATSI

Khris Davis Q&A: A's slugger discusses teammates, favorite breakfsat

MESA, Ariz. -- Khris Davis remains one of the most influential bats in the A's lineup. And not just because of his long-ball potential.

Teammates bookending him in the lineup also typically see better pitches when “K.D.” is leaving the yard at a frequent clip.

The designated hitter is ready to put a rough 2019 behind him in order to get back to being the feared masher he was in the previous three seasons.

Davis is a rare interviewee, but this Q&A gave us a great chance to get to know him better at spring training.

NBC Sports Bay Area: Teammate you would trust most to babysit your children?
Khris Davis: Oh, man. I’ll go with [Matt] Chapman. Because he’s actually really good with kids.

How many times can you wear the same jeans without washing them?
I’d say as soon as they get dirty. So probably five times. You’re supposed to wear them until they get dirty.

If you could clone yourself, what would you make that clone do?
Go to school ... finish up my school.

The bat you use, why did you choose it?
I got that model from [A’s coach] Mark Kotsay actually -- he gave it to me. I was in the minor leagues with the [Milwaukee] Brewers, He was a major leaguer at the time. The first time I used it, I hit a home run, and I fell in love. It’s an L162, kind of a custom model. 34 Inches, 31.5 ounces.

Were you named after anybody?
No.

Best smell of baseball season?
I’ll say the baseball or leather. I like the leather smell.

Can you still write in cursive?
Yes. I don’t personally choose to, but I can.

Teammate you would assume spends the most time personal grooming?
I hope it’s not me, with the braids, high maintenance. I’ll go with [Chad] Pinder, but there’s a lot of choices. Everybody in there takes care of themselves.

Only one breakfast for the rest of your life, what’s on that plate?
Pancakes.

If you were a media member covering the A’s spring training, what would your No. 1 story be?
I’m not sure. It’s been a quiet offseason -- maybe that’s the story? There it is!

Amount of time on average you spend preparing for the opposing pitchers?
I like to time him up on deck. I like to watch a little video. Nothing excessive, including batting practice. I’d say probably 30 minutes. It’s nothing crazy, I’m not like a studier. I just want to see different things, like his release, his arm angle, and see what his stuff does.

Can MLB players be friends with their coaches?
Yeah, absolutely. I am friends with all of our coaches.

One MLB player you’d be a fan of if you didn’t play?
I like hitters. [Cody] Bellinger is pretty nasty.

Best way to split a lunch or dinner tab with a teammate? We’re told you’re pretty generous?
I do offer to pay, but hopefully, somebody is there to pick me up and join. Share maybe? The veterans should take care of the younger guys, obviously, but it’s nice if there’s multiple veterans, right?

A.J. Puk's strikeout of Kris Bryant shows how special A's lefty can be

A.J. Puk's strikeout of Kris Bryant shows how special A's lefty can be

Allow A.J. Puk to reintroduce himself.

The A's young, hard-throwing left-hander made a cameo at the end of last season working out of the bullpen. He's expected to be a staple of the A's rotation this season, and he gave fans a glimpse of what makes him so special Saturday when he struck out Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant on three pitches to open the A's first spring training game. 

That last pitch made me feel things.

Puk, along with fellow southpaw youngster Jesus Luzardo, gives the A's rotation two potential aces in the making. During his one inning of work Saturday, Puk featured all four pitches in his arsenal -- four-seam fastball, changeup, slider, curveball -- and lit up the radar gun by touching 97 mph. 

But it was the punchout slider to Bryant that has people buzzing.

"First one of the year, it was a pretty good one to start out with. I was pretty happy with that," Puk said of the slider, via The Athletic's Alex Coffey.

[RELATED: Why A's no longer view Puk, Luzardo as prospects]

After coming off UCL surgery in 2018, Puk worked his way back to form last season before getting the call up to Oakland late in the year.

Now, he and Luzardo are ready to be the face of the A's rotation for years to come. If that slider to Bryant was any indication, the Green and Gold are in great hands.